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US Route 1: Gorgeous, Gritty

Running from the Florida Keys to the Canadian border, Route 1 has history and scenery aplenty.

While its roadside scenery might not be as consistently jaw-dropping as that "other" Route 1 — California's famed Pacific Coast Highway — the 2,400-mile US Route 1 that roughly follows the Eastern seaboard has its own share of beauty, and more than its share of grit. From Key West, Florida, to northern Maine, it has long been one of the world's great byways.

Florida Keys KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images Florida Keys The Seven Mile Bridge — perhaps the most striking two lanes along the entirety of US Route 1 — stretches between the Middle Keys and the Lower Keys. (Pictured: The Seven Mile Bridge looking north towards Marathon, Florida.) Saint Augustine, Florida John Coletti Saint Augustine, Florida The Castillo de San Marcos in Saint Augustine, Florida, is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States, constructed in the late 1600s when Florida was part of the Spanish Empire. Today, Route 1 passes within a half-mile of the fort, making it an easily accessible, and enduring, destination for travelers. Augusta, Georgia Brian Morgan/Corbis via Getty Images Augusta, Georgia Route 1 passes through the heart of Augusta, Georgia, the capital of the Peach State and home of the Masters tournament at the the Augusta National Golf Club.

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Columbia, South Carolina DenisTangneyJr Columbia, South Carolina After passing into South Carolina, Route 1 continues through rural areas — remaining a two-lane road in much of the state — with forays through some larger towns and cities, including the state capital, Columbia. (Pictured: Finlay Park, the largest and most frequented park in downtown Columbia.) Raleigh, North Carolina Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images Raleigh, North Carolina Route 1 travels 175 miles through the Tar Heel State, allowing travelers the chance to visit towns like Aberdeen, Rockingham, and Cary, as well as the capital of Raleigh, "the city of oaks." Every October, hundreds of thousands of people head to the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh for music, food, rides, games, agricultural exhibits, stunt shows (above) and an all-around great time. Fredericksburg, Virginia John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images Fredericksburg, Virginia Not far south of Washington, DC, Route 1 passes through the scenic Virginia town of Fredericksburg — the site of two pivotal battles of the American Civil War, including a major early win for the Confederacy in December 1862. It was in the midst of the slaughter at Fredericksburg that Gen. Robert E. Lee reportedly uttered the famous words: "It is well that war is so terrible. We should grow too fond of it." (Pictured: A monument to Union General Andrew Humphreys' division at Fredericksburg National Military Park.) Washington, DC Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images Washington, DC A five-bridge complex crosses the Potomac River, connecting Arlington, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., near the Jefferson Memorial, feeding car and rail traffic into and out of the capital. This is the point where US Route 1 crosses into Washington from Old Dominion, a.k.a., Virginia. Conowingo Dam, Darlington, Maryland The Washington Post/The Washington Post/Getty Images Conowingo Dam, Darlington, Maryland In Maryland, five miles south of the Pennsylvania border, the Conowingo Dam blocks part of the lower Susquehanna river. Route 1 crosses over the top of the dam. On most days between Thanksgiving and into January, the shallow waters of the river draw dozens and sometimes scores of bald eagles hunting for prey. Fish that are sucked through the dam's turbines make for easy pickings not only for eagles but for buzzards, crows, and seagulls, too. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania John Cardasis Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Fairmount Park is the largest park in Philadelphia and the catch-all name for one of the largest municipal park complexes in the world. Route 1 runs right through the northern section of the park, south of Bala Cynwyd. (Pictured: Statues overlooking the Schuylkill River.) Jersey City, New Jersey Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images Jersey City, New Jersey Between Newark and Jersey City in the Garden State, the 85-year-old Pulaski Skyway crosses the Passaic and Hackensack rivers. Conjoined with NJ state route Route 9 at this point, Route 1 travels up to the George Washington Bridge, where it crosses the Hudson River into Upper Manhattan and then into the Bronx. Bronx, New York James Devaney/WireImage Bronx, New York After crossing into New York, Route 1 remains with I-95 North for several miles, where it eventually hits surface streets in the Bronx. Effectively bisecting the New York Botanical Garden and the Bronx Zoo, Route 1 then heads toward the Connecticut border, where it continues as a two-lane local road. (Pictured: A snow leopard at the Bronx Zoo in January 2016.) New Haven, Connecticut Boston Globe/Boston Globe via Getty Images New Haven, Connecticut Route 1 travels through some of the Connecticut shoreline's ritziest communities (Greenwich, Westport, OId Lyme) and some of its toughest (Bridgeport, parts of New London), but few places offer as satisfying a reason to stop as New Haven. Specifically, the section of town known as Wooster Square, where Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana and nearby Sally's Apizza have long vied for the title of best brick-oven pizza pie in the United States. The rivalry is a friendly one — but no less intense for that. Thimble Islands, Connecticut Buyenlarge/Getty Images Thimble Islands, Connecticut Dotting Long Island Sound a few miles south of Route 1, just off the coast of Stony Creek, Conn., the Thimble Islands — many featuring houses that are barely smaller than the private rocky islands they sit on — are a scenic treat in any season. Warwick, Rhode Island Jeremy D'Entremont, www.lighthouse.cc Warwick, Rhode Island Route 1 runs through Rhode Island for fewer than 40 miles, but many of those miles offer attractions and sights, like the lighthouse at Warwick, that look and feel like quintessential New England. Boston, Mass. Boston Globe/Boston Globe via Getty Images Boston, Mass. The Tobin (or, as many call it, the Mystic River) Bridge spans the Mystic River, from Boston to Chelsea. Between 80,000 and 90,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day. Plum Island, Mass. Stuart O'Sullivan Plum Island, Mass. Named for the wild beach plum shrubs that grow on its dunes, Plum Island is an 11-mile-long barrier island just north of Cape Ann, close to the towns of Newburyport, Rowley, and Ipswich. Within shouting distance of Route 1, it is a day-trippers' — and birders' — paradise. Portsmouth, New Hampshire Philip Case Cohen Portsmouth, New Hampshire Settled in 1623, Portsmouth is a small city (pop. around 21,000) with a charming waterfront on the Maine-New Hampshire border, at the mouth of the Piscataqua River. Acadia National Park, Maine MyLoupe/UIG via Getty Images Acadia National Park, Maine Acadia is the oldest national park east of the Mississippi River, and relative to its size, the most visited: 3,300,000 people trekked its 49,000 acres in 2016; Yellowstone, roughly 40 times larger, saw 4,250,000 visitors. Still, places of solitude and quiet beauty — like serene Echo Lake (pictured) — can be found all over Acadia and Mt. Desert Island, while the park's wild, rough coastline provides gorgeous vistas. Fort Kent, Maine Portland Press Herald/Getty Images Fort Kent, Maine The northern terminus of Route 1, Fort Kent in Aroostook County, Maine, is a destination for hunters, hikers, anglers, and anyone else who's a fan of the outdoors and of "getting away from it all." In that sense, at least, the town is not all that different from its warmer cousin in the Keys at the other end of Route 1.

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